Commercial quality rye was once widely cultivated in Kentucky, but – during the past several decades – production has almost entirely ceased to support programs for corn and soybean production. Bringing rye back to Kentucky as a commercial cover crop is building farmer and stakeholder excitement and awareness to the benefits of cover crops in general, engaging end-user business interest and support, improving regional soil and water quality and land conservation. It also broadens traditional thinking about how a single crop, such as corn, can be more sustainable when the entire field and seasonal rotation is considered.
Multiple benefits will be achieved with this initiative: healthy soils absorb more water during heavy rains, which reduces runoff, and offer better resilience during periods of drought because the land holds more water. Healthy soils also can help farmers increase yields, increase yield stability, and be more productive in the long term. In addition, using rye as a cover crop is a regenerative agriculture practice that helps sequester carbon to help mitigate climate change. We hope to achieve consistent production of a high-quality rye grain for distilling, brewing, baking.